You Loved Me Once

27: Ready When You Are

“You know, we’re due to kick off in about 10 minutes. Shouldn’t you be slightly more focussed?” Gerard teased as stepped up behind Lionel, stealing the phone out of his grasp. It wasn’t unusual, for the two months that he had been dating Alba, the argentine had almost become inseparable from his phone, but Gerard couldn’t help but tease him. It was a change, for a while, Lionel had been quiet and a little detached, but Gerard was pleased to see the grin back on his face, even if he was holding out on introducing Alba to the group, he knew that his friend was happy.

“I am perfectly focussed” Lionel countered, trying to grab the phone from his hand.

“Of course” Gerard teased “That’s why you’re sending cute little texts to your girlfriend, because you’re thinking about the match we’re about to play” he grinned.

“Alba was wishing me good luck” Lionel noted gently “She doesn’t exactly watch the matches, but she likes to wish me good luck before kick-off. I was merely thanking her” he insisted.

“With a series of cutesy emoticons” Gerard teased, tossing the phone into Lionel’s kit bag “I didn’t have that as your style” he teased.

Lionel shook his head and moved to stow his phone in his locker before he returned to his seat, pulling his boots onto his feet.

“You and Alba” Gerard mused “You’re still happy aren’t you?” he posed gently. He didn’t like to pry, Lionel and Alba had always been the type of couple that preferred to keep things quiet, but Gerard was curious. He wanted to ensure that his friend wasn’t chasing after a woman who had little to no intention of making things work with him.

Lionel, who’d been tying his laces, tilted his head. “You’re asking me about my girlfriend?” he posed.

“You don’t talk about her” Gerard shrugged “All we get is your goofy smiles when she texts you. I know you want to keep this close to your chest for a little while, and I get that, but I want you make sure that you’re happy” he insisted.

Lionel, who’d turned to adjust his shin pads, nodded. “I’m happy, Gerard” he mused, a small smile pulling at the corner of his mouth “I mean, it’s not perfect, and Alba…she’s taking her time, but I knew what I was getting into. It’s not perfect, but it’s working” he enthused.

“Enough that you’ll consider letting me see her?” Gerard posed “Shakira’s itching to meet her” he added.

Lionel shook his head. “It has to be on her terms, Gerard” he mused “But I will mention it to her, see what I can do” he enthused before a coach appeared in the doorway, signalling that it was time to go.

Gerard pushed himself to his feet and followed after Lionel, patting his shoulder softly. “Don’t hide her away forever” he mused gently before he jogged out of the room.

Lionel shook his head a little and followed after the defender. He was itching to introduce Alba to his friends, he had been since they’d gotten back together, but he knew that they had to do it on her terms. She was nervous, after Calista’s visit a few days previous, Alba had become more uncertain and nervous, and Lionel merely want to ease her into things. 8 weeks wasn’t that much time and he was prepared to wait for her, even if it did mean hiding his own feelings for a little while.

He merely wanted Alba to be comfortable.

Startling a little at the sound of her phone, Alba looked up from her laptop, trying to spot it. It had been a quiet afternoon, with Lionel due to play against Las Palmas, she had only received a few texts from him, but she was a little surprised to find her phone ringing, especially since the match had only kicked off 10 minutes previous. Frowning, she placed her laptop onto the couch at her side and moved to collect her phone which sat on its speaker dock. “Hola?” she posed.

“Alba?” Lionel peeped.

“Leo?” Alba posed “I thought you were playing?” she pressed.

“I was” Lionel mused “But I got hurt and I need…”

“Hurt?” Alba squeaked.

“It’s Ok” Lionel insisted gently “It’s not too bad right now, but I do need someone to pick me up and you were the first person I thought of. Do you think you could get down here?” he pressed gently.

“There’s no one else?” Alba squeaked gently. She didn’t want to turn him down, if he was hurt, she wanted to be the one who took care of him, but she was concerned. Calista’s visit had made her nervous and the idea of being seen with him was scarier to her than it had been before.

“Not right now, no” Lionel mused “I know what you’re thinking, Alba” he murmured.

Alba chewed on her lip quietly.

“Alba, it’s going to be fine” Lionel insisted gently.

“You don’t know that” Alba countered.

Lionel sighed. “Please, nena” he noted gently.

Alba nibbled on her lip for another moment before she sighed. “Alright” she mumbled as she moved to find her keys “I’ll be there shortly” she added.

“Gracias, Alba” Lionel enthused softly.

Alba nodded gently and placed her phone in her pocket before she moved out of the door, hoping that she could get in and out quickly.

“What the heck did you do?”

Lionel, who’d been messing with his phone, lifted his head, a small smile appearing on his face as Alba stepped into the room.

“It wasn’t the best challenge” he noted with a small shake of his head “You took your time” he added, offering her a grin.

“The people at security don’t tend to let anyone in” Alba mused as she stepped towards the bed where he sat “I had to show them my ID” she added.

“At least I told them you were coming” Lionel teased.

Alba rolled her eyes before she sat down on the side of his bed, her hand gently brushing against the knee of his which had been wrapped. “Bad?” she posed.

“Not good” Lionel replied “They’re going to perform a scan on it at the hospital tomorrow once the swelling’s gone down a little, but they’re optimistic that it’s not going to keep me out for a long time. A few weeks’ tops” he enthused.

“A few weeks?” Alba posed “That’s going to feel like forever to you” she pointed out.

“Perhaps” Lionel mused “But it could be worse” he added.

Alba nodded, her blue eyes watching her hand which traced shapes into the padding on his knee.

“We can go” Lionel offered softly “I just need a signature from the medic on the forms over there, but it shouldn’t be too long” he assured her gently.

Alba offered him a slightly dubious look before she shook her head, moving to settle on the bed beside him, allowing him to place his arm around her shoulders as a silence fell around them.

“I’m sorry I hesitated” Alba mumbled softly.

Lionel tilted his head. “What?” he posed.

“On the phone. I’m sorry I didn’t just agree” she babbled.

Lionel shook his head. “It’s fine” he insisted.

“It’s not” Alba mumbled, shaking her head “I should have just come. You were hurt and I should have thought about that first, not my stupid nerves. I’m sorry” she insisted gently.

Lionel smiled. “I get it” he insisted as he took her hand, kissing it gently “And I am not upset. You’re nervous, Alba, and I know it. I wouldn’t have expected anything else” he insisted.

Alba tilted her head, something which made him smile gently. “You’re getting used to this again, Alba, I know that, and whilst I would like to do things like introduce you to my friends or let Gerard introduce you to his girlfriend, I can wait for it. This is on your terms, remember?” he posed.

Alba nodded.

“Then take your time, nena” he fussed gently “I’ll be ready when you are” he insisted before the medic stepped into the room, causing him to sit up.

Alba watched him before she smiled to herself. She kind of liked the idea that he was willing to wait for her to do things on her own terms.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comments :)